Another week has passed. According to the postal clerk, all copies of “Cheesesteak” should have been delivered. About half of the people who received free copies have acknowledged them. (Only one has bought a copy for someone else.) Less than one-quarter sent notice of the book but not copies have acknowledged them and only one-twentieth have bought a copy. I have sold two copies to strangers, one in a café and one on line. To expand my market I have offered two purveyors of cheesesteaks, one in Philly and one in Del Ray Beach to sell copies on consignment. Neither has replied.
Almost all responses have been positive. A few have been deeply gratifying. These responses have ranged from calling “Cheesesteak” “hilarious” to praising its “feeling for loss, beauty… and, of course, sadness.” None have been negative, but a couple readers have taken the occasion, not to respond to anything I have written, but to display their own cleverness. These are not among the reactions I cherish.
One person reads it bit-by-bit before sleep. One read it straight through and then started again. One will read it as soon as she finishes her laundry and errands. A noted celebrator of West Philadelphia did not offer to plug me, as I’d hoped, but said he would send me a copy of his memoir.
One probable alcoholic in a café where I peddle my wares disparaged my “Buy Bob’s Books!” sign. “Too busy,” he said. He found the command “Buy” offensive. He suggested a simple “For Sale” sign with a pointing arrow. I offered to trade him a book for such a sign. He said he would discuss it with an artist friend.
There the matter stands.